MAC candidate - Art Conservation
Marie-Lou Beauchamp working at the Canadian Conservation Institute
© Government of Canada, Canadian Conservation Institute, CCI 127054-0003
Marie-Lou Beauchamp working on another piece during her internship at the Canadian Conservation Institute
© Government of Canada, Canadian Conservation Institute, CCI 127054-0010
Queen's Art Conservation Program Leading Towards a Dream Career
by Reeju Ray, July 2014
Marie-Lou Beauchamp is a Masters student in a one of a kind program in Art Conservation offered by Queen’s University. She says, “I did not choose Queen’s; Queen’s choose me! Queen’s University is the only school which offers a graduate program in conservation in the country. Since my mind was set on that career, Queen’s was the only Canadian option for me.” Marie-Lou had a knack for art and craft since childhood. Driven by her passion and skill Marie-Lou chose to do a two year program in Fine Arts to get her CÉGEP degree after completing high school. She honed her skills during these years but felt the need to enhance her knowledge of art, which led her to do an undergraduate degree in art history, following which she enrolled in a Masters degree in the same field. Still yearning for the right balance between art and research she found that the art conservation program at Queen’s would be an appropriate path to lead her towards a career that would bring her happiness and satisfaction.
The Art Conservation program at Queen’s, Marie-Lou notes, incorporates seminars on diverse topics as well as “hands on practice of art conservation” to prepare graduates for a career in the field. Marie-Lou’s thesis is titled The Use of Cyclododecane as a Temporary Fixative for loose Surface Media on Paper to Allow Mechanical Conservation Treatments. She is working on a new application for a material already used in conservation. Marie-Lou points out that “this project represents what is to me one of the most important aptitudes of a conservator: problem solving.”
Marie-Lou says that Queen’s is a special place for her because of all the three universities she has attended, it is here that she has found a close community. “I never really understand the attachment people had toward their university before attending Queen’s. And it’s something hard to explain. You just know you are at the right place and part of something really special that has been going for years and years” she states. Having supportive professors who help students discover new aspects of art conservation has been one of the best things about the department according to Marie-Lou. The biggest challenge she has confronted is completing a graduate degree in a second language, but has successfully done what she never expected to do. The writing centre was a very useful resource to hone her English writing skills along with a lot of help from peers and professors. “My advice for anyone who is thinking to take a degree in a second language would be: Dive in! The water might be cold at first, but you’ll be glad you did it! And don’t be shy to ask for help. Even fellow students and professors are often very happy to help you with reviewing grammar if you plan ahead enough!”
Marie-Lou grew up in Québec in a small village country forty five minutes north of Montreal. She enjoys living in the city of Kingston especially the old downtown which reminds her of the city where she lived before moving to Queen’s. Going for a run along beautiful lake Ontario is her favorite thing to do in Kingston. And the best part, she says, is that the lake is so close to campus. Like recent graduates Marie-Lou’s immediate concern after completing the program is to find a job related to her field of studies. The world is her oyster at this point and she is applying to advanced paid internships and fellowships around the world. With Marie-Lou’s specialisation in paper conservation, she is looking forward to several options including working in museums, archives, libraries or in conservations centers, and even private practice. Marie-Lou’s awareness that a combination of skills and passion can lead to career paths that can make one happy, is a useful example for aspiring students, artists, and those looking for a creative yet educational route.